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Effect of implementation of safety measures in tae kwon do competition
  1. D T Burke1,
  2. K Barfoot2,
  3. S Bryant2,
  4. J C Schneider1,
  5. H J Kim1,
  6. G Levin1
  1. 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA
  2. 2Louisana State University Medical Center, Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1542 Tulane Avenue, Box T6M-2, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Burke, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, 125 Nashua Street, Suite # 753, Boston, MA 02114, USA; 


Background: Previous reviews of tae kwon do (TKD) tournaments have documented injury rates of 25/1000 to 12.7/100 athlete exposures. Most injuries have been reported to be to the head and the neck and are occasionally very serious. Many of these studies involved high level TKD competitions with minimal safety precautions. Recently, safety measures have been implemented in many TKD competitions.

Objective: To evaluate retrospectively the incidence of injuries in TKD competitions involving a wide range of participants and featuring extensive safety precautions.

Methods: A total of 2498 participants ranged in age from 18 to 66, included both men and women, and ranged in rank from yellow to black belt. Traumas, defined as any event requiring interaction with medical staff, were documented with respect to mechanism, diagnosis, treatment, and follow up recommendations. An injury was defined as a trauma that prevented a contestant from resuming competition on the day that the trauma occurred, according to National Collegiate Athletic Association criteria.

Results: The injury rate was 0.4/1000 athlete exposures. This is lower than reported in previous studies of TKD tournaments and in many other sports.

Conclusion: TKD tournaments that emphasise limited contact, protective equipment, and medical supervision are relatively safe and compare favourably with other sports.

  • tae kwon do
  • martial art
  • injury
  • safety measures
  • prevention

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